2019 Hawkins County Super Bowl

Volunteer’s Jaiden Cutright (57) brings down Cherokee’s Thomas Hughes (42) during the Hawkins County Super Bowl Sept. 20 last year.

MURFREESBORO – It’s football time in Tennessee!

Well, keep your fingers crossed anyway.

In a press conference Wednesday, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee announced that he will sign Executive Order No. 55, which will include TSSAA member schools in an exception to contact sports restrictions.

Football and girls soccer are considered fall contact sports.

The contingency plan for football passed by the Board of Control last week stated that if contact practice could resume prior to Aug. 4, then no contests would be rescheduled.

Therefore, the date of first contest for football remains as Aug. 21 with state championships Dec. 3-5 in Cookeville.

Football teams were allowed to begin heat acclimatization on July 20. Each athlete must complete heat acclimatization (two days of helmets only, three days in helmets and shoulder pads) before practicing in full equipment, which is now permitted.

No changes to the 2020 football schedule, regular season or otherwise, will be made.

“It’s very critical that we get these kids back out,” said Cherokee Athletic Director Andrew Morgan. “They lost spring stuff and lost a lot of summer stuff. We’re just ready to get it going however we can.

“There’s a high possibility we can resume Week One. We’ve still got some programs that still have to get their heat acclimation – a couple days of helmets, a couple days of helmets and shoulder pads. Then you’ve got to get a good 30 days. Hopefully, we can get to that point,” Morgan said.

Once the order is signed, contact may take place in girls’ soccer practice. The date of first contest remains as originally scheduled, Aug. 17, with the state championships to be held Oct. 28-31 in Murfreesboro.

“This is good news for many kids and their families,” said Bernard Childress, Executive Director of the TSSAA. “but the reality is that the virus will continue to be with us and we have to be smart about taming the spread.

“Every adult and every participant in every sport must do their part and follow the guidelines set forth by TSSAA and the Governor’s office to help mitigate these risks,” Childress said.

“We appreciate being able to work with Gov. Lee and his staff on this,” Childress added. “I am pleased that we were able to develop some very specific guidelines for every sport that will allow our kids to get out on their fields and fully participate in football and girls’ soccer this fall.”

Although contact practice is now permissible, the regulations and requirements for practice and competition adopted by the Board of Control at their July 22 meeting are still in place for all sports and must be followed.

“Children across the state are counting on us – school administrators and coaches – to proceed with practices and competitions safely while being very mindful of the requirements and modifications that we have put in place,” Childress added.

“Our return to play is a partnership, and it’s important for everyone to do their part,” Childress said.